San Francisco International Airport (SFO) – John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
STD: 6:30 AM ATD: 6:26 AM
STA: 3:11 PM ATA: 2:39 PM
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200 (75S) N721TW (17 years old)
Flight Date: September 6, 2016
A 6:30 am flight sounds great in theory, but less so in practice. I usually try to give myself plenty of time at the airport to unwind before boarding, but I haven’t enjoyed such a luxury on my last couple of flights. A 6:30 AM flight certainly doesn’t help.
Brian and I got to the airport at about 5:20, and checked in at the counter. I typically check in online 24 hours before, but that feature is not available when traveling with an emotional support animal as the check in agent needs to see his documentation. The agent at the counter was incredibly friendly (well, for 5 in the morning, at least), and processed us quickly. She even wished me an early happy birthday as I walked off (I barely even remembered it was coming up!)
We made it through security fairly quickly (despite the seemingly longish lines) thanks to TSA precheck. The airport was surprisingly busy at 5:30 AM – though this should have been expected post-Labor Day weekend. We tossed all our carry on items in the x-ray machine conveyor belt (including his carrying case), and I carried Marshall through the metal detector.
We arrived at the new(ish) post-security lounge at about 5:30 – this was my first visit to this lounge, as my last trip to SFO was prior to its opening. The old lounge was landside – which was painfully inconvenient, since I would always worry I would never have enough time to get through security to catch my flight (though this was never the case).
The new lounge is stunning, with floor to ceiling windows and plenty of seating.
For more details on the lounge, read my review on the Delta LAX Sky Club.
After checking some email, it was time to board and we walked over to Gate 43. Boarding was already on its way and we walked up to the now-empty Sky Priority line and was processed quickly.
While our plane coming to SFO was a 767 with the comfortable staggered Vantage style seats, our flight to New York was the narrow-bodied 757. The Delta One cabin offers 2-2 configuration, with four rows, while the economy cabin is built as a 3-3 configuration.
While I generally prefer business class cabins where all passengers have aisle access, the only time these configurations are less painful is when traveling with a companion (and a dog, too!). Though I still hate bothering my neighbor every time I need to get up, whether or not I know the person.
The seats were, for the most part, standard lay flat business class seats. The standard automatic buttons control the seat position and the controller for my personal TV were located to my left, while the international outlet, USB port, and headphone jack was located on the right side, slightly behind the seat. I do like how the location of the outlets are behind the seat instead of on the armrest, since I usually find myself tangled up in cords mid-flight when they’re too close to the seat, so the distance is nice (no tangles found upon touchdown).
Speaking of in-flight entertainment, maybe I’ve flown Delta one too many times this year, but I do wish they’d get some new programming. Despite running out of TV shows to keep my entertained, I appreciated the sizable TV screens.
Though I accidentally booked the aisle seat, I asked Brian to switch for the window. One thing to note as a main difference between the window and aisle seat (other than the obvious) is the size of the footwell. The window seat footwell is notably narrower than that of the aisle seat. The inverse was true for the shelf below the TV, where the aisle seat has a narrower shelf, while the window seat has a wider shelf (we noticed this when we realized the menus only fit on my shelf).
I looked through the menu and selected my main course for breakfast – french toast. I usually hate flights with breakfast as the only meal, since I try to avoid eating eggs on a plane, which leaves me with basically one option, but on this this flight, I lucked out on the second dish.
We pushed back and took off a few minutes earlier than scheduled, and we were up in the air before we knew it. Since I’m seated on the right side of the plane, I didn’t get much of a parting view of San Francisco, but I managed to catch the Bay Bridge during take off.
Not long after reaching cruising altitude, I logged into my gogo wireless account and fired up the wifi I had bought prior to arriving. Since my last few trips were on carriers with no wifi, having access to internet as a treat.
Breakfast was served about an hour after take off. A choice of croissant or a bagel was served with a small cheese plate and fruit to start the meal. The french toast brought over as soon as I was done.
The french toast had what appeared to be a french bread base (vs the challah bread base which I love), so I was a little apprehensive, but it actually turned out to be tasty (though chewier than I’m used to). Even so, I was pleased with my meal selection.
Mid-flight I popped by the bathroom, which was a noticeably worn by use on the flight, though I did appreciate a paper towel set up made by the crew, since the built-in paper towel dispenser seemed to be a little troublesome in function. Though the plane was on the older side, I did notice upgrades to the bathroom in the form of a motion sensor flush and faucet. I noticed the Malin+Goetz toiletries are still in use, I wonder if these will be changed to Kiehl’s, what with the change in the amenity kit.
Speaking of the change in amenity kit branding, we did receive the updated one on this flight, though the soft case version was handed out (the hard case had been distributed on the flight to LAX). As expected, the standard toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, eyemask, tumi-branded pen, tissues, and ear plugs were included, as were the new Kiehl’s hand lotion and lip balm, plus a pair of socks (which had a slightly updated design as well).
The flight landed about 30 minutes earlier than scheduled (though a few minutes later than what the captain quoted when we were up in the air), and we pulled into the gate with no delay, and we got off the plane fairly quickly. Getting home through traffic in New York City however, is another conversation.
On this trip, I traveled with my dog Marshall. As I’ve mentioned before, traveling with a pet – particularly a service animal of any sort – on your ticket can mean you will not be able to check in prior to arriving at the airport. I suggest leaving plenty of time to get to the airport in order to do so, especially to ensure you have time to allow your pet to relieve themselves if necessary. Not all airports have a pet relief station after security (though SFO Terminal 4 had some signage displayed advertising that they will be building this feature in), so you’ll want to make sure to give yourself time to let your pup do his or her business before boarding.
The flight attendants were friendly and polite about having him on board. As expected, they were aware that I was traveling with a dog and politely greeted both of us as we found our seats. All the FAs that came by stopped to chat and ask what his name was, but were never too invasive of our time or space. Overall, we had a pleasant flight with our dog, and look forward to Marshall’s next flight!
The flight was the standard Delta trans-continental flight, with the level of service and quality I’d expect. Overall, a solid experience, though I much prefer the configurations where all seats have direct access to the aisle (fortunately I was traveling with a companion, this would have otherwise been more awkward).
Check in: 9/10 – Friendly agent at the desk – even caught my birthday was coming up!
Lounge: 9/10 – Gorgeous airside lounge. Though, as is my general opinion of Delta lounges – would love to see more complimentary meals and liquor, rather than a paid structure for premium items.
Boarding: 10/10 – Standard boarding – I was late to the gate. As there was only 1 gate agent manning two lines (SkyPriority and regular), the agent tended to me as I approached the counter before the others.
Food: 9/10 – Surprisingly good! (I have low expectations for breakfast on planes)
Seat: 7/10 – While the seat was comfortable (and fully flat!) I do hate having to crawl over someone every time I have to get up.
Cleanliness of aircraft: 7/10 – clean upon boarding, though lavatory was in need of care by mid-flight
Crew: 8/10 – Standard friendly Delta crew, some even made some comments about that pup I was traveling with.
IFE: 7/10 – Nice, large, bright touchscreens, though I would love a refresh of Delta programming.
Elite recognition: 7/10 – Didn’t come up, with the exception of the Sky Priority lane, and flying in business class means a separate check in counter, automatic access to the lounge, and early boarding.
Flight Timeliness: 10/10 – Departed a few minutes early, landed early.
Overall: 83/100 (83%) ★★★★★